What brand should I buy? How big are the different scales? Should I take my collectibles out of their package? Here are answers to these and other questions you may have about racing collectibles.
1/64, 1/24, 1/18...
What do these numbers mean???
Okay, so what's with all these numbers that are always used as part of description of die cast cars? That number is the scale, or size, of the car. A 1/64 scale car is the size of the typical matchbox or hot wheels car. It is a very popular size due to the fact that it is small enough that you can fit several cars in a small space and the price is easier on the wallet than the larger scales. Another very popular scale is 1/24. A 1/24 scale car is the size of the typical plastic model that you glue together. Being quite a bit larger than the 1/64 scale cars, the 1/24ths are able to have much more detail. Also gaining alot of popularity the past few years is the 1/43 scale car. Revell has put nearly as much detail in the 1/43 scale cars as they have in the 1/24 scale. Their size and price is a nice compromise between the 1/24 and 1/64 cars. The following chart lists more specific dimensions of the different scales. Although the numbers can vary slightly from car to car, these numbers will give you a good comparison between the different sizes.
|1/144 stock car||1.25"||0.5"||0.4"|
|1/64 stock car||3"||1"||0.8"|
|1/43 stock car||4.5"||1.5"||1.2"|
|1/24 stock car||8.5"||3"||2.25"|
|1/18 stock car||11"||3.6"||3"|
What about all the different brands?
You will find a lot of different opinions among collectors as to what
is the best brand of die cast to collect. If you are looking for the highest quality
pieces then you'll want to go with Action or Revell Collection. If a lower price is more
important then you'll want to look at Racing Champions, Revell Select (also called Hobby),
Winner's Circle, and Hot Wheels.
Just to keep things confusing, there are exceptions within some of the brands that contradict the general statements just made about the different brands. For example, Racing Champions produces a line called "Authentics", which is a very nice car -- coming close to, if not matching, the level of quality found in the higher end Revell and Action cars.
Another thing to keep in mind is that not all drivers are available in each of the different brands. This is because the different manufacturers have exclusive contracts with some drivers, which prevents other companies from being able to produce those drivers cars. Which drivers this effect chages somewhat from year to year. At the current time (1999), Racing Champions holds the rights to all of the Roush drivers (Mark Martin, Jeff Burton, Chad Little, Johnny Benson, and Kevin Lepage), so you won't find their cars in the Action or Revell brand. Action/Revell (Action purchased Revell in 1998) holds the exclusive rights to several drivers, including Dale Earnhardt and Jeff Gordon.
Here is a general breakdown of the major players in the die cast market:
Action Platinum - Note that the name Platinum in this case has nothing to do with the color of the car -- it is simply a brand name and the cars are painted to match the drivers actual cars. These are high quality cars, with opening hoods and trunks (except 1/64 scale). The 1/24 scale cars come in 2 versions - clear window cars and black window banks. The only difference between the 2 is that the clear window cars have a fully detailed interior and the banks do not have a visible interior. The banks have a coin slot in the rear window. Some people prefer the Action brand over Revell, because the Action cars have a diecast chassis (underside), which makes them a little heavier duty (Revell has a plastic chassis).
Action RCCA - RCCA is Action's "Racing Collectables Club of America". Members of their club are sent monthly fliers that have versions of cars that are available exclusively through the club. Since 1998 the cars that are available to club members are the 1/24 "interior bank" and the 1/24 Elite Series. The interior bank does have a fully detailed interior, but the trunk does not open, since that is where the coins are stored. The Elite cars are like Platinum series cars with added detail. The Elite cars include working roof flaps, engine plug wires, and additional increased detail. The club also offers a 1/64 scale car that is just like the Platinum series except that it is a hood open car. Since 1998, all of the paint jobs that are available on the club cars are also available in the Platinum Series.
Revell Collection - These are high quality cars, with opening hoods and trunks (1/64 and 1/43 scale have opening hoods, but not trunks. In 1997 and earlier versions the 1/24 did not have opening trunks). All scales, except 1/18, include a base and acrylic case, which is one reason some people prefer Revell or Action. The Revell Collection cars also have a little more detail in the interior and engine.
Revell Select - Also called Revell Hobby. This line is a step down from the Revell Collection series. They do not have opening hoods or trunks, and do not include the clear case. There is not as much overall detail in the car, but they do have very nice paint jobs, so they do display nicely. Their main advantage is price.
Racing Champions/Winners Circle/Hot Wheels - These cars are the lowest quality of the bunch and therefore the least expensive as well. In most case they do not have opening hoods or trunks and have much less detail than the higher-end brands. Many hobby stores don't carry these brands, because they simply cannot compete with the mass-market stores (K-Mart, Shopko, Wal-Mart, etc) on price. Wholesale costs to hobby stores on these brands is typically equal to the retail price from the mass-market stores. Based on that information, you have probably figured out that your best value on these brands is found at the local mass-market retailer. We realize that not everyone is conveniently located close to these types of stores so we will stock some of the more popular cars from these brands.
Racing Champions - One final note about Racing Champions. Although I lumped them in with the other lower quality cars, I should also mention that they have recently been also producing some higher quality lines. You will find a very wide range of products available from Racing Champions. The new Authentics line does have quality approaching (if not meeting) that of the nicer Action and Revell cars. They also produce some pretty decent intermediate quality items, such as their hood open Signature Series.
Should I take it out of the package?
If retaining or increasing the value of your collectible is what is the most important for you, then you should not remove the item from its package if it will ruin the packaging. Fortunately, the higher end collectibles (Action and Revell) come packaged in such a way that the cars can be removed and re-packaged. If you do this, however, you should display the car in some type of enclosed case, where it will be free from dust, fingerprints, etc. Personally, I prefer to take cars out of their packaging. Even if a car is in window or blister package that lets you view the car, I would rather look at the car without the packaging. If I am purchasing an item that I think may increase significantly in value someday, I will usually buy 2 if I will need to ruin the packaging to open it. That way I can tuck one away and display the other one outside of its package. The prices that you see in price guides such as Beckett Racing, Racing Collector's Price Guide, and Diecast Digest are for cars still in their original packaging.